In my perfect world, I have an inner-peace and tranquility that is unable to be shaken by a traffic-congested morning commute, rude comments, or even by leaving my packed lunch on the kitchen counter while I head off to work empty handed. (Truly a modern-day tragedy.) As hard as I try, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that sometimes the daily stressors of life, no matter how small, can begin to wear on us. I visited World Peace Yoga on New Year’s Day in an attempt to start my year off on the right foot, and I am happy to report that I left feeling peaceful, rejuvenated, and ready to conquer 2019.
World Peace Yoga is a small studio located on Ludlow Avenue in Clifton. As I walked through the front doors of the quaint building, I was immediately greeted by a stillness and serenity I didn’t know that I so desperately needed. Actually, let’s be honest, I knew I needed some serenity the minute I hit “snooze” for the third time earlier that morning. I just didn’t expect to feel it so quickly! I placed my shoes alongside the others lining the wall and headed up the stairs and into class.
Upstairs, the class studio space is warm and inviting: blocks, mats, and blankets are available in abundance for anyone to use, and I was intrigued by the tiny, bright blue stones that I noticed many students placing in the corner of their mats. As I familiarized myself with the space, I saw a bowl of these stones near the entrance, with a sign explaining that these were “Permission Stones.” These stones are to be displayed in the corner of the mat of anyone who would like hands-on assistance with postures and poses. No stone, no hands-on assistance, the choice is yours… so cool.
The Yoga Instructor was Anna Ferguson, co-creator of World Peace Yoga, and newly published author. (We’ll get to that later!) Anna began the class with a warm welcome into the new year, and coincidedly, I felt a wave of warmth wash over me as Anna began teaching. After a few minutes, I realized that I had positioned myself directly in front of a space heater. However that did not retract from the warmth of Anna’s voice that so calmly led us in practice.
Currently, World Peace Yoga does not advertise hot yoga classes, but you can go and take one this winter if you sit directly in front of this space heater… just kidding.
A second instructor walked around and offered assistance throughout the class to those with Permission Stones, and she kindly shut the space heater off for me. In every facet, the teachers at World Peace Yoga are very attune to their students’ needs, and this exhibition of empathy is one of the driving forces behind their mission.
After class, I chatted with Anna about her creation and vision for the studio, and her thoughts about the world off the mat. In the first few minutes, it was clear that Anna’s authenticity is a huge part of what makes her studio so welcoming, inclusive, and unique.
After taking just one class, I understood each of the things that sets the studio apart. One of those things is the music! Anna explained that there is an intentional integration of yoga philosophy into the physical practice of poses. This is done in a few ways, including through fun, inspiring, and meaningful class themes, and music playlists. We’re talking an instrumental version of Toto’s “Africa” that somehow made me feel energized yet very zen all at once. I loved it!
Aside from loving the music, I also loved the feeling of inclusivity that World Peace Yoga so strongly promotes. Just within the class I took, I saw a wide range of ages, body types, and various cultural backgrounds. It was clear that everyone felt very welcome, completely comfortable, and most of all, happy to be there.
As a unique offering, World Peace Yoga provides instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) for any class if they are given 24-hour notice.
There are also specific classes that are taught with little to no vocal cues, primarily using ASL and gestures. They even offer chair yoga, which is a more gentle form of yoga. According to their website, it is wonderful for those new to yoga or those who may be looking for a less demanding class, have physical limitations, or are recovering from injury.
Even the permission stones are a vital part of the studio’s promotion of connectivity. Anna explained to me that the stones are an important part of promoting respect, dignity, and comfort within the studio space. Some people may not be comfortable with physical touch for a variety of different reasons, and having students consent (or not consent) to hands-on assistance in a discreet way is an important component of the values the studio upholds. Anna also mentioned that there is an action plan to transform the first floor of the building into a more accessible studio space, since she knows that not everyone is able to climb the flight of stairs into their current classroom.
World Peace Yoga also recognizes that not everyone can afford the price of yoga classes. They offer completely free community classes on the weekends; on Saturdays at 11:15 am they have yoga, and on Sundays at 11:00 am they offer Sadhana Service, which focuses on breath work, meditation, and philosophy discussion. Perhaps even more exciting, World Peace Yoga gives all new visitors their entire first MONTH of classes for free, pretty amazing! FREEdom month is 30 consecutive days of unlimited yoga classes, an offer good for those who live in the Greater Cincinnati area. Count me in!
You can see the variety of different classes and services World Peace Yoga has to offer here, you can check them out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and you can take a look at Anna’s World Peace Yoga Book here. That’s right, Anna has also written a book that is “Yoga Revolutionized,” discussing mindfulness, self-love, and inner peace. She has graciously provided a link to the first chapter of her book for CSOB readers, and you can access the chapter at this link.
I asked Anna if she had any resolutions going into 2019, and she explained that she is continuing to strive to embody much of what World Peace Yoga is all about. Anna emphasized the importance of connecting with intuition, deeper empathy, and compassion as we head into this new year.
She went on to explain that world peace truly must start from within; “connecting with greater inner peace is vital so that we may be a vehicle for creating a more peaceful world.”
Now THAT is something we can all get behind as we strive to better ourselves, and the world around us, in this season of beginnings.